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Oshawa MP says Liberal data plan is a “massive breach of privacy”

Dear Editor,

No other government in the free world monitors the line-by-line financial transactions of its citizens. Why?

It is a massive breach of privacy.

This Liberal government wants to access the deeply personal financial information of millions of Canadians without their consent.

Under this surveillance scheme, the bank accounts of Canadians in 500,000 households will be monitored daily.

The government will know what you buy at the drug store and when. The government will know what kind of car you drive. The government will know when you last went to Tim Hortons.

This is unprecedented. And it gets worse.

It turns out that the Liberal government has been hiding this plan from Canadians for months.

The head of Statistics Canada recently admitted that the agency has been working on the project for around a year.

The only reason we found out about the secret plan was because it was leaked to Global News.

Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien has called the level of transparency around the plan “deficient.” He has now launched a formal investigation.

Prime Minister Trudeau is trying to defend this scheme by calling it a “pilot project’ and arguing that the data will be “anonymized.”

Let’s get things straight.

First, this was never intended to be a pilot project.

If it was, StatsCan head Anil Arora would not have told the House of Commons Industry Committee that the sample of Canadians monitored will “rotate from year to year.”

How can a sophisticated plan to track the line-by-line transaction data of millions of Canadians each year possibly be classified as a pilot project?

Second, while it is true that the data will be re-identified after StatsCan employees access your bank account and see all your transactions, the agency will have a master key that allows all data to be re-identified.

To put it simply – the government (or a hacker) will be able to access all your financial information all the time if that key is used.

The government should not access such sensitive data without your explicit consent. Especially when that data could be an increased risk of a hack.

This government doesn’t exactly have a perfect record when it comes to protecting private information.

I have personally seen the enormous list of privacy breaches since this government took office. It is frightening.

No wonder privacy experts are sounding the alarm. Former Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian warns that the “treasure trove of sensitive financial data” that Statistics Canada wants to collect “will be a magnet for hackers.”

Cybersecurity expert David Shipley says that Statistics Canada is “not resourced to handle this data… and they won’t be able to protect it appropriately.”

The banks are also expressing “serious concerns” about the plan and have declared that “all options are on the table” when it comes to fighting back against the forced disclosure of their customers’ financial data.

Statistics Canada can obtain the information it wants using alternative, less-intrusive methods. We know that because multiple privacy experts have said so and given suggestions.

The Liberals need to shut this intrusive program down and apologize to Canadians for keeping them in the dark for so long.

Colin Carrie

Oshawa MP